Apple, Netflix, IBM Officially Pull Out of SXSW — Who’s Next?

Downtown Austin, TX, which hosts SXSW starting March 13th, 2020 (photo: Avi Werde)

Downtown Austin, TX (photo: Avi Werde)

Another day, another high-profile South by Southwest (SXSW) 2020 cancellation — or cancellations, to be precise.

Citing concerns about the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Netflix, Apple, and IBM have become the latest companies to nix their previously scheduled appearances at the Austin, Texas, event. This week has also seen Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, TikTok, Vevo, Intel, and several celebrities withdraw from the mega festival, which is scheduled to begin on March 13th.

While it’s likely that the cancellation list will continue to grow in the coming week, it’s been made abundantly clear that SXSW will not be postponed.

The mega festival’s organizers have emphasized that they are working alongside Austin Public Health officials to assure the health and wellbeing of attendees. Despite these assurances, nearly 50,000 concerned individuals have signed a petition calling for SXSW 2020 to be put on ice.

Early this morning, the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in New Jersey; a Texas man is also thought to have come down with COVID-19 and is undergoing additional tests while receiving treatment in isolation.

Plus, multiple New York schools have been closed for disinfection following possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Chinese leader Xi Jingping has announced that his planned visit to Japan will be postponed as the countries combat the coronavirus; the infection originated in China and has claimed a substantial number of victims in the country, with the actual total unknown presently. Japan has reported over 1,000 COVID-19 cases and is weighing the prospect of cancelling or postponing the Summer Olympic Games.

Aside from China, Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, relative to other countries.

Yesterday, Italy announced that it, like Japan, will close all its schools; educational institutions are scheduled to reopen on March 15th. South Korea, which has reported over 6,000 COVID-19 cases to date, went ahead with plans to create a “special care zone” around Gyeongsan. In the special care zone, residents will have free access to additional medical supplies and treatment.

In previous statements, SXSW officials indicated that a similar number of ticketholders have requested refunds as in previous years, and that most such requests stemmed from travel restrictions.

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